Tennessee State Museum explores the rich and diverse history of Tennessee’s food through a new exhibition, “Let’s Eat! Origins and Evolutions of Tennessee Food”, open now through February 2, 2020, at the Museum’s Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park location in Nashville.
Among the many stories told in the exhibition through artifacts, images, interactive activities, and videos is the story of Muddy Pond Sorghum in Overton County.
The sorghum plant came to North America from Africa via the slave trade. It has a long history in Tennessee of being transformed into sorghum syrup. Not to be confused with molasses, typically derived from sugar cane, sorghum syrup has a lighter and sweeter flavor. It is used as a sweetener in recipes, but the most popular choice may be enjoying a healthy pour of syrup over hot biscuits.
John and Emma Guenther crafted sorghum syrup for their community for years before opening Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill during the 1980s. Now operated by the Guenthers’ sons and their spouses, the mill processes sweet sorghum cane by pressing the sorghum, boiling the juice, and bottling the syrup while it is still warm. They are open in operation during September and October, encouraging guests to observe and have a few taste tests.
The display is complemented by photos of Mark Guenther preparing sorghum syrup.
Tennessee State Museum, on the corner of Rosa L. Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history.
Through six permanent exhibitions titled “Natural History”, “First Peoples”, “Forging a Nation”, “The Civil War and Reconstruction”, “Change and Challenge”, and “Tennessee Transforms”, the museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day.
Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements.
Admission to the museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events visit tnmuseum.org.